Why Combinator?


Leave it to aspie engineers with a guilt complex to try to remake society in a way so they don’t feel so bad about fucking over everyone who is not a tech worker.

“We want to study building new, better cities.”

How about a profile of existing cities, criticisms of them, and specific ways they can be improved? Robert Caro, Jane Jacobs, Maria Montessori, and the authors of Suburban Nation all have things they might offer… I’m also a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, but his wife might not agree 😉

“The world is full of people who aren’t realizing their potential in large part because their cities don’t provide the opportunities and living conditions necessary for success. A high leverage way to improve our world is to unleash this massive potential by making better cities.”

The two key words from this paragraph are “potential” and “success.” Let’s set aside the booklong discussion on who is the arbiter of these things, and focus on what qualifies as “success.” Given that this comes from one of the Sand Hill Road Gordon Gecko wannabes, it’s pretty clear what they actually mean is “maximize your return.”

“The need for new supply continues to increase significantly [1].”

Is that why they are encouraging automating non-tech workers jobs out of existings, and use a bastardized interpretation of Milton Friedman’s basic income as a crutch to explain it all away?

“Many constraints related to where cities should be located (e.g. near rivers for trade) have changed. We now have major technologies such as smart grids, autonomous vehicles, etc.”

In other words, the technologies that are destroying non-tech worker jobs are making life way easier for the rich and powerful.

“The internet itself allows for participation never before possible.”

Substitute “participation” for “exploitation” and you get the same idea. See internet.org.

“Also, housing prices in many cities have become untenable and we need more housing in places people want to live.”

Yes, and why has this happened? The same people who are praising all the technologies that remove our need for dependence on geography are also demanding you relocate your entire life to a central location, driving out the people who were living there before, and destroying any semblance of culture.

“Some existing cities will get bigger and there’s important work being done by smart people to improve them.”

Empty statement detected. More input required. Also, how will population get larger when the non-tech worker class is driven into poverty and/or basic income, and it does not make economy sense for everyone else to have families?

“We also think it’s possible to do amazing things given a blank slate. Our goal is to design the best possible city given the constraints of existing laws.”

Is there such a thing as a “blank slate”? There are a list of historical events I can give you which have the same assumption, but the end result was less than desirable.

I have to stop there. The rest of this piece is unreadable, and loaded with unchecked arrogance. It seems like another step in YC’s realization that they are slowly but surely helping to completely fuck the economy, and are trying to dig their way out of it, and hopefully get a few good social graces along the way.

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